Protesters are joined by NDP MLAs at a rally in front of the B.C. legislature against a charge for bus passes introduced along with an increase in disability assistance, March 2016. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

UPDATE: NDP adds $52 for disability transportation

Monthly payment can be used for transit, rides from friend

The B.C. government has announced an additional $52-a-month transportation supplement for people receiving provincial disability income assistance, following a divisive debate about bus passes before the spring election.

Social Development Minister Shane Simpson announced the supplement Monday at the B.C. legislature, with representatives of provincial advocacy groups for people with disabilities.

The previous B.C. Liberal government increased disability income assistance rates by $77 per month in September 2016, and introduced a $52 charge for those who wished to have a transit pass. The charge for transit passes sparked protests, and former social development minister Michelle Stilwell defended it by pointing out that 45,000 disability assistance recipients were short-changed because they have no access to transit services.

Simpson said the new supplement can be used for an annual transit pass for people in Metro Vancouver and other places with transit service, or for any other purpose, including paying a friend or neighbour to provide occasional trips for shopping and other trips.

“At any time, people could cancel their bus pass if they want,” Simpson said. “They could use their supplement for other transportation needs such as HandyDart if they chose to do that.”

The B.C. Liberal pre-election budget included a $52 increase to cover the difference for disabled people who want transit passes, but it did not take effect after their government was defeated. The NDP program is to cost an estimated $70 million a year.

The NDP government raised income and disability assistance rates in its budget update Sept. 11, with the $100-a-month increase in effect for assistance cheques delivered later this month.

The cost is estimated at $472 million over three years to increase the rate for 190,000 people, bringing the monthly rate up to $710 for a single employable person and $1,133 per month for someone on disability assistance.

Faith Bodnar, executive director of the advocacy organization Inclusion BC, said the new supplement is a welcome solution that is fair to people with disabilities whether they use transit or not.

Just Posted

Stolen sax, sheet music, impacts Trail big-band and after school band

Anyone with information is urged to call the Trail RCMP detachment at 250.364.2566

Extensive road repair nears completion in Fruitvale

The scope of work includes new water and sewer service connections as well as road resurfacing

Community invited to check out mining trade show in Trail

Trade show free and open public on Wednesday and Thursday in the Trail Memorial Centre

Columbia Basin Trust announces grant for technology upgrades

The deadline for organizations to apply is Dec. 17

Christmas blooms in downtown Trail

The Artisan Craft Co-op recently celebrated its 30th anniversary in downtown Trail

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

Most Read